VOLUNTEERING WITH US

Passion for Learning seeks to recruit the most diverse team of enthusiastic volunteers possible. We have no upper age limit! Our work is all about bringing the world to the children that we work with and so many members of our community have ideas, experiences and talents that we would love them to share with the children. Our Volunteer Team includes people who have considerable experience of working with children including teachers, teaching assistants and nursery workers but we also have many people who have no prior experience of working professionally with children. We also offer volunteer opportunities to young people to support at our Enrichment Clubs and events in a nurturing and supportive environment.

The wealth of skills, careers and interests that our volunteers represent is one of our greatest strengths. We ensure that our initial and ongoing training is comprehensive to enable volunteers to go into school feeling well-prepared and confident.

A Day in the Life of a Passion for Learning Volunteer

Volunteer Rosie O. shares her experience of volunteering with Passion for Learning, in the following extract.

Hi.  My name is Rosie and I’m a Volunteer Tutor with Passion for Learning. I have been volunteering for around five months. This is my first volunteer role since recently retiring and I love it!

I work with three boys on a one to one basis at a local Primary School, two afternoons a week. The three boys aged 10 and 11 are in year six and my role is to help build their confidence, improve their literacy and widen their horizons ahead of transition to high school in September. Each day is different but I’ll try and give you a flavour of what it’s like to be a volunteer.

It’s Monday morning and I’m preparing for my sessions with the three boys this afternoon. I’ve learnt quickly that both the boys and I need some structure to the 30 minutes I spend with each of them during the afternoon – even with careful planning I always overrun! I’ve learnt be flexible and to adapt what I’ve planned once I’m in school and I have a sense of how the boys are and what’s important to them that day. Finding their interest is at the heart of a good session and what takes their interest is often quite unexpected!

I pull together a range of bite size materials that I can use during my sessions with them that week which typically includes exploring key dates or events happening that month (Friday 13th was a big hit!), some new WOW words (word of the week), some creative work (they loved making up limericks for St Patricks Day), some short interesting articles to read and explore together and a few fun word games (for example Story Cubes, Slam, Boggle) which always go down well.

I arrive at the school just after 1pm and I’m fortunate that I can use the staff room which is close to the boy’s classrooms. I’ve got to know many of the teachers and school staff by being in the staffroom and I am always greeted warmly. Classes start at 1.15pm and I pop into the classroom to meet and greet each of the boys in turn. This enables me to say hello to their teacher and to become a familiar face to the other children in the class as well. I start each session by chatting to the boys about their day, weekend etc. This gives me a sense of how they are feeling and any issues to be aware of before we agree what activities we will do in this session.  Each of the boys have different abilities, personalities, interests and concentration levels so I find myself adapting my approach with each of them. I don’t always get it right – I’m constantly learning as well!

A highlight each week has become the “WOW Quiz”. I introduced Word of the Week (WOW) quite early on inviting each of the boys to bring or find a tricky word for me and I did the same for them. I realised that although the boys enjoyed exploring the new words with me, these new words were quickly forgotten. So, I’ve started to build a weekly WOW Quiz where with the aid of pictures I “quiz” the boys on the meaning of all of the words they have learnt over the weeks and they love it! It’s amazing to see how their quiz scores have improved as the weeks have gone on and a little competition between the boys has definitely helped!

I hope I’ve given you a small insight into my day as a volunteer. I am so glad that I volunteered with Passion for Learning who are supportive, passionate and caring. After one afternoon with the boys I feel so many emotions – joy, amusement, excitement, occasional sadness, satisfaction, pride and most of all gratitude that I am able to play a small part in improving the lives and learning of three wonderful young people.

HOW CAN I VOLUNTEER?

The process of becoming a volunteer is simple, informal and supportive. Prospective volunteers can apply online, give us a call or drop us an email. One of our Team will get back to you as quickly as possible to arrange for us to meet you. Every volunteer needs to apply for a criminal records check (known as a DBS) but we do the application with you, process it and pay for it. Once you are happy that you understand the commitment and would like to join our Team we will arrange for you to attend one of our full day training sessions usually held at Stanlaw Abbey Business Centre in Ellesmere Port. Our training is comprehensive and includes everything that you need to know about safeguarding. We always train in small groups so our sessions are informal giving you plenty of time to share your ideas, ask questions and get to know us and the other new volunteers.

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Jennifer volunteers with Passion for Learning